Charity advises 70 hard-up Hull households on benefit changes
HARD-UP families are being given help to budget ahead of sweeping reforms to the welfare state.
The Hull Families' Project in Greenwood Avenue has visited 70 households to offer advice.
Beth Allen, the project's development co-ordinator, says many families are worried about how they will make ends meet when changes are made to their benefits.
She said: "A lot of people I have visited have admitted burying their heads in the sand.
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"But they acknowledge, with these changes coming, they need to start budgeting better while ensuring they are receiving what they are entitled to.
"Often, when I have visited people, I have picked up the phone and made a few calls to get the ball rolling.
"It's important people can see things happening straightaway.
"People have been very relieved and we have been well-received.
"I have had people cry when it's all been sorted out for them."
The Hull Families' Project has linked-up with Sanctuary Housing, a city-wide housing association, to reach some of the most vulnerable residents.
Ms Allen said: "Some people have told us they would not have spoken to their tenancy officer about difficulties they were having, as they wrongly believed it would cause problems.
"Because we are a charity, they tend to open up to us."
If Ms Allen has been unable to sort problems, she has been referring families to the Community Legal Advice Centre and free debt advice agencies. She said: "People can be quite embarrassed and reluctant, at first, to talk about financial matters."
One of the biggest concerns facing council and housing association residents has been the so-called "Bedroom Tax".
From April, welfare reforms will cut the amount of benefit that people can get if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom.
Ms Allen said: "Some people may have lived in their home for years. Perhaps their children have now moved out, leaving them with a spare room.
"Understandably, a lot of people in that position will not want to move into a new property.
"So we have been helping them juggle their budgets to accommodate this change, while encouraging them to look at other options that may be open to them, such as taking in a lodger."
The Hull Families' Project can be called on 01482 809333.